If the word “unprecedented” was the vaccine for the deadly Corona Virus, the world would quickly become virus-free just by the sheer number of times unprecedented has been injected into headlines, stories and casual conversations as of late.

Since unprecedented means “never before experienced,” can we confidently state that these are unprecedented times? While it’s true that COVID-19 is a new virus, history shows the world has experienced many other pandemics. One could argue that today’s times are unprecedented because of the world’s current-yet-ever-changing environmental issues, economy, political climate and what-not, yet, if that’s true, couldn’t we say that every single day of our lives is truly unprecedented?

For the sake of clarity and my own sanity, I propose we drop the word unprecedented and agree that what we’re really experiencing can be far better described as “unexpected.”

Pandemics are not totally unexpected. After all, that’s what the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control are built for – predicting and eradicating viruses and diseases in order to keep humans healthy and alive. So, it’s probable that the CDC and WHO did expect and somewhat prepare for something like this to happen, or there would be less need for them to even exist.

What I’m talking about is the unexpected that we’re experiencing as individuals. Much of what we expected to happen didn’t or isn’t going to happen, or it’s happening differently than we expected.

When you planned for your spring break this year, did you expect you’d be spending it in your own home? When you went grocery shopping in early March, did you expect that you’d be wearing a face mask and gloves the next time you visited Kroger, or that there would be a black market for toilet paper, disinfectant and yeast? Did you expect that parties, concerts, proms, graduations, weddings and funerals would all be cancelled – if not declared illegal? Did you expect that you’d have your kids in the house 24/7 for the rest of the school year while you were forced to work from home, or that it would be weeks or months before you could leisurely sit in a restaurant or bar? Did you expect that you would never again see some of your friends or loved ones and be left with no sense of closure? Do you feel the way you expected you’d feel in this situation, or, because it was so unexpected, had you never given thought to how you might feel or act?

Did you ever expect that even HOPE would feel unstable?

The looming sense that there will be more unexpectedness feels unsafe; like walking on shaky ground or standing on the edge of a precipice. One wrong move and the dirt might completely crumble beneath you, sending you and everyone you love into the abyss. Just when a light appears to be shining at the end of the tunnel, dark clouds seem to appear and dim its beam of hope.

As unstable as it may seem right now, hope–the feeling of expectation and the desire for something to happen–is stronger than ever. Hope is what will ultimately pull us through.

If the world were not feeling an overwhelming sense of hope, the search for a vaccine would be abandoned. Doctors and nurses would pack up and go home, leaving the sick to fend for themselves. Without hope, nations would not be reaching across borders to help each other and schools would have abandoned students altogether instead of implementing alternative teaching methods. Hope is what’s keeping the majority of people sheltered in place and protecting each other.

Hope is helping us discover that we can be more compassionate, patient and cooperative people when we decide to be.

Hope is stronger than ever right now. We are witnessing countless acts of love and kindness from unexpected hero’s, all in the name of hope.

Eradicating the devastating Corona Virus by turning the word unprecedented into a vaccine would truly be an unprecedented outcome, yet I don’t expect it will happen that way. I do, however, remain vigilantly hopeful that great progress will continue to be made to end COVID-19, that we will continue to be a more compassionate, patient and cooperative people and that daily acts of love and kindness will be immeasurable as we learn to embrace and expect the unexpected.

That, my friends, would be an unprecedented change.

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